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The Ministry of Health and Wellness has been tracking the global emergence of the new SARS COV2 Variant B.1.1. 529. The new variant, named Omicron has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as of November 26, 2021.

The variant Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, or the effectiveness of prior infection. Internationally, there are several studies under way to understand the significance of this new variant.

The WHO has stated that preliminary evidence suggests that people who have previously had COVID-19 could possibly become reinfected more easily with Omicron.

 All variants of COVID-19 can lead to severe disease or death, particularly for persons who are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, and those with serious health problems, including heart or lung disease, diabetes, obesity or weakened immune system. Preventative behaviour is, therefore, always recommended. 

Individuals are urged to continue to be as cautious and careful as possible, using the preventative measures, such as physical distancing, frequent hand-washing and sanitising, and the correct wearing of masks. Consideration of the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 is also strongly recommended.

Given the available information from reputable public health agencies and being aware of ongoing research worldwide, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to review its COVID-19 protocols and update where necessary, as it seeks to keep the population as safe as possible.

Ministry of Health and Wellness

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